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Monday, July 8, 2013

Safety Officials Investigate What Caused Asiana Airlines 777 Crash

by Woodrow Bellamy III

Safety investigators are trying to determine whether pilot error contributed to the crash landing of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 on Saturday in San Francisco, which killed two people.
(Asiana Airlines' Boeing 777 crash. Photo, courtesy of NTSB.)
Investigators have already learned that the pilot had little experience flying the aircraft and that the plane was traveling "significantly below" its targeted speed during its approach to San Francisco International Airport. The pilot was attempting to land a Boeing 777 in San Francisco for the first time, according to a spokesperson for Asiana Airlines. Although the pilot had more than 10,000 flight hours flying other aircraft types, he had amassed only 43 flying hours on a 777. The crash landing caused the deaths of two onboard passengers out of the 307 passengers on the flight. The accident marked the first fatal crash by a commercial airline on U.S. soil since February 2009. 
According to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Deborah Hersman, a preliminary review of the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder revealed the aircrew called for an increase in the aircraft's approach speed just seconds before impact. Hersman said the 777 was traveling well below its targeted speed of 137 knots before it crashed into the runway. 
"The speed was significantly below 137 knots, and we're not talking a few knots," said Hersman. 
Investigators also indicated that the approach conditions were fair, with mild winds and no significant impact on visibility. During the approach, the pilots never discussed having any "anomalies" with the plane until seconds before impact, according to Hersman. 
Boeing is sending a technical team to provide assistance to NTSB, FAA and Korean government inspectors that are currently investigating the crash. The investigation team will be looking at all possibilities for the cause of the crash, including pilot error and  the aircraft's engines and landing gear. 

Related: Aviation Today's Checklist 

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